MERIDEN — The number of new COVID-19 infections in Meriden has dropped in recent weeks but the city continues to report one of the highest per capita case rates in the state.
“We have had 179 additional cases since last Tuesday,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati posted on social media Tuesday evening.“This brings our total to 6,460 Meriden residents that have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far. Our daily case rate has dropped again this week to 57.3. Our positivity rate has increased slightly to 7.7 percent.’”
The daily case rate looks at the average number of newly confirmed cases in the last seven days per 100,000 residents. Using the city’s population size in the calculation helps more easily compare larger and smaller cities and towns. A larger municipality would be expected to have more cases because of the larger population, but expressing the rate per 100,000 residents enables a more equal analysis.
The daily case rate differs from the positivity rate which looks at the percentage of positive cases from the number of tests administered. The state's COVID-19 test positivity rate came in at 1.58 percent Wednesday, one of the lowest numbers seen in months and good news for the trendlines, Gov. Ned Lamont said.
Meriden’s daily case rate ranks lower than some small towns on the state’s eastern border, such as Killingly at 60.7 per 100,000 people and Sterling at 79.4.
But it also stands as the highest in cities with roughly the same population. Bristol reported 41.6 as of Feb.11, East Hartford 47, West Hartford 23.3 and Milford 31.5. Like much of the state it is in the red zone.
Meriden Public Health Director Lea Crown said she doesn’t compare the city to others but is pleased to see continued decreases.
“Our numbers are heading in the right direction,” Crown stated in an e-mail. “Through our contact tracing efforts, which we do seven days per week, we continue to notice household spread and social gatherings as the main source of spread in Meriden.”
The city has also significantly bolstered its number of vaccinations, particularly among residents 75 and older. Three weeks ago, roughly 14 percent had been vaccinated with their first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. This week, nearly 50 percent of that age cohort has received at least a first dose.
The city’s health department receives only 300 doses a week from the state and enough for second doses, but other vaccination clinics have opened to accomodate city residents. People over age 65 are now eliigible to receive vaccines and essential workers, including teachers, are next in line. The city has administered 2,033 residents with a first dose, and 567 with a second dose of vaccine.
While reminding the public to continue social distancing and mask wearing, the lower case numbers and increased vaccinations led to Lamont calling for more business reopening on March 19.
If the trendlines continue, starting March 19, private, social and recreational events at commercial venues will be able to increase indoor capacity to 50%, capped now at 100 people —an increase from 25 people. Outdoor event capacity can now be up to 200 people —an increase from 50 people.
Mass vaccination centers will be opening in surrounding communities. Hartford HealthCare will be opening a vaccination center at the Oakdale in Wallingford on March 1, and at 1 Liberty Square in New Britain on Feb 22. Community Health Center has opened a vaccination center at Wesleyan University.